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Author Topic: Meccano style parts for building moving things ?  (Read 1578 times)
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I would like to use servos and steppers to design and build some moving toys, controlled by arduinos. Such as a crane, or a pan-tilt platform, or a car. The main goal, a part of enjoying myself, would be to interest my sons in technology. They don't seem to be very impressed about flashing leds or display. Perhaps moving things..

What would you use to do so ? I have seen Meccano and also Lego mindstorms, but the Lego seems to come with its own electronics and its expensive. It must be something reasonably priced, allowing us to quickly play with the servos, steppers and some C code to male small toys and then disassemble them.

Any ideas will be welcomed !
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You can do it with lego, technical  or otherwise. If you have steppers and an Arduino, you don't need the special mindstorms components. The only downside, is that you'll have to devise some means of making your parts easy to attach to lego pieces - might have to adapt some bricks to fix to the steppers for example.
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Child-proofing is the first thing I'd think of. Not wanting to walk 2-3 times I still remember carrying loads of stuff just by their cables and I'll spare you my memories as Janitor on a school for kids aged 4-12  smiley-grin

The way you at-/detach motors/sensors etc seems indeed important.

Having played with Fischertechnik myself as a kid I noticed it still exists, but... it's also expensive.

Second hand would of course be nice.

One thing I regret as a child was little knowledge about working with wood/metal.
I wouldn't advice a small child to operate heavy duty machinery, but I probably would have built a lot more with just a load of old aluminum + tap&die-set.
Re-using would be a little more difficult, but at the same time a nice mental challenge.

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"you'll have to devise some means of making your parts easy to attach to lego pieces - might have to adapt some bricks to fix to the steppers for example"

Do you have an example of that ?
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Child-proofing is the first thing I'd think of. Not wanting to walk 2-3 times I still remember carrying loads of stuff just by their cables and I'll spare you my memories as Janitor on a school for kids aged 4-12 

Do you mean it has to be solid ? They are 7 and 9... what do you think ? Well, they also have to learn to be careful. Will see..
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Don't they have Erector Sets anymore? Those were the bomb when I was a kid.

Me and a neighbor kid were hard core into those, had the motors so we could make little cars and cranes and everything. Bear in mind though, this was before mankind set foot on the moon so I have no idea if you can still get these.

Lemme google it real fast...

Holy cow these are expensive! Of course, I haven't shopped for toys in a while... perhaps this is the going rate.

Look into the "Eittech" metal building kits. These look awesome! You get little cranks that make stuff move. Nothing is more fun for a budding engineer than turning little cranks that makes metal stuff move.
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One thing I noticed on school was the smallest kids demolishing most. Grown-ups would have quite a job ruining the tricyles we had without tools, but it seemed no challenge for a group of 4-6 year olds ;-)

The "vandalism" of the older kids was often more a matter of abreaction, stuffing toilets with toiletpaper, writing stuff on walls etcetera. I'd guess they be more cautious with their own stuff.

Not having kids myself I must say I miss those little rascals, it was a great job.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2011, 09:28:08 am by Simpson_Jr » Logged

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Ah, here you go:

http://www.fatbraintoys.com/toy_companies/schylling/erector_set_special_edition_set.cfm?display=main

You get one set for parts to make stuff as normal...

Then another set to use the rail parts to make encapsulated Arduino powered servo drives and sensors, then add those as parts to the first kit.

Not even remotely cheap, of course. One Erector rail framed Arduino block with a remote controlled motor would cost 50 to 150 dollars to build.

But it would be GLORIOUS.
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"you'll have to devise some means of making your parts easy to attach to lego pieces - might have to adapt some bricks to fix to the steppers for example"

Do you have an example of that ?

Not really, no. I was thinking that either you would need to use whatever mount points your steppers had and screw/bolt them to some lego bricks, or make a cage out of those grey technical lego girders to enclose a motor and shim it firmly if necessary. Of course, if you do too much of that, the Mindstorms kit starts to look less expensive  smiley-wink
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 You could also say "Yes kids, you're going to have loads and loads of toys, but only after.... daddy built his".

http://reprap.org/wiki/Main_Page

 smiley-grin
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There's Lego NXT kit where you get a microprocessor and 3 small engines and some different sensors. Visit legos website for more information.
I found some videos on youtube with some ideas for what to do.
 


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